Over the past 10 weeks, I have developed relationships I will never forget and learned new skills to further my career in astrophysics.
The last weekend was spent at the Brookhaven National Lab in Yorktown Heights, New York. The photo on the left shows the STAR detector for the accelerator shown on the right. We were unable to get a private tour, but the public tour was far worth it. We spent the day in awe of modern physics.
I have given my research talk and poster presentation to the department and my peers, and everything is coming to a close. I was very pleased with the knowledge I was able to gain in just 10 weeks. I was able to comprehensively answer questions I would not have dreamed to be able to answer at the beginning. The photo below shows the poster I presented. My research advisor and I plan to meet at the American Astronomical Society conference in January for me to present my work there as well.
Leaving my internship was bittersweet. I now have friends all over the United States, and I am certain we will all never been in the same place at the same time ever again. I know the friendships will continue until I am old. As school approaches, I am eager to start classes and begin my teaching assistant job. I am excited to teach younger students in my department how to code, observe, and write scientific research papers. This is going to bring me much closer to being a professor someday. I will also be continuing my research with Project MINERVA this fall, finding exoplanets.
As I look to graduate schools for Fall 2017, I will consider the things I learned at Rutgers University this summer and hope to apply them to the rest of my career to become a leader in my field. I thank everyone that made this opportunity possible for me.
I am spreading my wings professionally and socially. I have met so many new people and learned so much. I have been working on my galaxy project still but trying to balance it with tours of the East Coast. I went to Philadelphia for a concert with the KONGOS and Strumbellas, building life long relationships with people from all different scientific fields. I have gone above and beyond what I thought I would accomplish via networking this summer. I went to Yorktown Heights to visit IBM and learn about their condensed matter physics. The photo below shows one of the condensed matter labs.
We toured Princeton and saw Einstein’s house. I was able to see the Physics and Astrophysics buildings on the campus. Below are photos of me at Princeton. The three in the photo in front of Einstein’s house are physics majors from other universities, also participating in the Research Experience for Undergraduates this summer at Rutgers. I left the campus with goals of being a graduate student there in the fall of 2017.
For the 4th of July, we all went to the beach to unwind. It is safe to say I am making lifetime friendships. It is wonderful to see what happens when you make 40 scientists live, work, and play together for a summer. We are all from different fields, yet we all get along tremendously and have spent the summer talking about life and science.
I will end this post on yet another high note. I have been offered a Teaching Assistant for the Fall Semester ASTR 362: Observational Astronomy course with my research advisor at UM. I will be happily helping to shape 13 minds. I will get to teach them Python, observing, and how to produce a great scientific paper. This was my favorite course my Sophomore year at the University, and now to get to teach it makes me beyond happy. I only have a few more weeks at my REU, and I have a feeling I will be leaving it with a longing to come back to the East Coast and to see my new found friends again.
I am not a leader in the sense that most people think of when they hear the word. I do not make speeches. I do not do outreach. I am not on the front lines of some political movement. I code. I do not even code for purpose that many of you would deem worthy of your interest; not even something many have heard of.
For the summer, I get the opportunity to spend the summer in Piscataway, New Jersey. I am simulating galaxies with Professor Alyson Brooks with the hopes of discovering something about galactic evolution. I was offered this position out of 368 applicants. In that sense, I am leader. I got this position, not because I can talk to people, but because I can solve problems.
Liberty Bell – Philadelphia, PA
On the way to NYC
Aside from the work, I have been able to go on several day trips with others in the program. I have visited the Hayden Planetarium in NYC and the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Reading Terminal Market, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia. Through these visits, I have been making connections that will last a lifetime. My roommates and I plan to go to Asbury Park this weekend.
All of the trips make it sound like I have a lot of freetime, but I work 40 hours a week on simulating galaxies. The cover photo for this post is an example of one. I have been spending long hours trying to use this information to determine information about galactic evolution.
Along with work, we have been doing Physics GRE prep and having many discussions on Graduate School, Collaboration, and Scientific Ethics. I am confident that these “courses” will help me succeed later on as a scientist. I am hoping to take the Physics GRE this fall and begin applications to Graduate School for Astrophysics, specializing in either Observational Planetary Science and/or the Origin of Magnetic Field lines in M Dwarf Stars. Both of these topics are very “hot” in Astronomy right now.
I am incredibly happy about my field choice both because of the people and the amount of open research questions. I am glad I found my passion so early in life.